By John Matonich
I know that change is inevitable, but I read an article recently that really caught me by surprise. I know I live in an area that isn’t always up on the new ways, but this is one time I am glad I live here and hope we never see this change head in our direction.
It seems that the new business craze across the country is for “cashless” stores. That’s right, these stores only accept plastic or one of the pay applications available for your smart phone. I really couldn’t believe this would ever be something I would see, but it appears this trend is picking up speed.
There are still merchants in our area who require a certain minimum purchase amount to even use a credit card as the credit card company fees certainly eat into profits. As far as smartphone pay apps, I still know a ton of folks who don’t even have a cell phone or if they do, it is a flip type phone that is far from “smart.”
The article mentioned a man who wanted to buy a taco from a taco shop in a city somewhere in New York. He evidently had the cash in his pocket, but was told he wasn’t going to be able to purchase the taco without some plastic card or a pay app on his phone. He was told to stand aside as he was holding up the rest of the line. This went on for a while until a sympathetic clerk found another customer who was willing to swipe his credit card in exchange for some of the other customer’s cash.
I know this seems bizarre, but to me, not at all humorous. I think there is something wrong with our society if they believe everyone has access to credit cards or even bank accounts for that matter. The article went on to say that over 8.4 million American households don’t even have bank accounts let alone credit cards. The article went on to say that the majority of these households are minorities. I wonder if this shouldn’t be considered discrimination of some type.
Many business owners interviewed contended the new cashless requirement helped speed up checking out and that many of the younger generation don’t carry cash anyway. The cashless system also discouraged employee theft. I am not sure, but I also think there is a concern about the time it takes for some employees to be able to accurately return the correct change. Even with the new registers that pretty much do all the math for you, I have witnessed struggles with how to return change from a cash purchase. I guess it is easier to eliminate the cash option rather than properly train an employee on how to count change. I am sorry, but that is sad to me.
When I retired from my day job a few years ago, I moved back home in the far west end of Da UP and opened a wood shop right on the main street of my hometown. We do custom woodworking as well as having a retail area of items folks can simply purchase. Before the big move, I spent a lot of time thinking about how I needed to handle customer payments. I do a lot of projects for customers all over the country via my web site and have been using a PayPal account for a number of years. What worried me was about how to handle local customers who simply came into the shop and wanted to purchase something.
Checks and cash aren’t an issue, but I thought I needed to be prepared for those who came in looking to use a credit or debit card. With that in mind, I spent about $150 for a credit/debit card reader that would handle this type of purchase. Our shop has been open for over 3 years and even though we have had good sales over the time we have been open, I have never used the credit card machine. It is sitting in a drawer in my office and hasn’t been touched since the mailman delivered it.
I don’t know where this movement will go, but I do understand that there has been enough pushback that many of the cashless stores have retracted this policy and are accepting greenbacks once again. I am not going to take any chances. I think I better get that credit card machine back out, dust it off and charge it up. I need to be ready in case some of the folks up here trade in their flip phones.
And that’s the situation as I survey it …